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Helplessness

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2001 by RDFollendoreIII

November 3, 2001

I write about world events, and about a perspective of world events.  I always have some point to make, even if my writing is sometimes intended to be humorous.  Today I have decided to just write and make the point happen for itself.  I feel pretty depressed at this particular moment.  In fact you might say that I feel awful.  My family and I have been having some really tough times and in particular the last few weeks.  

Yesterday was very unpleasant and that  probably is what accounts for my feelings today.  I was compelled by a Federal Court to testify as a witness about people and about things that really hurt me years ago. I got caught between the legal crossfire of two warring companies for technical reasons I have had nothing directly to do with in many years.  I intentionally took the high road back then, and thought I had successfully walked away from the whole situation and all of those feelings.  I was not surprised that someone would search me out to find the truth.  Yesterday, in swearing to tell the whole truth during that deposition, I had to face the helplessness of my past situation all over again.  I knew all of the facts but was frankly emotionally unprepared.  I felt sick at my stomach, and I think I understand exactly how a rape victim must feel when having to relive their situation.  It feels horrible when you are confronted with something that you have tried to leave behind.  

Years ago when I was in college and my Father suddenly passed away of a heart attack, I felt so depressed that I asked for professional help at the VA hospital.  My Doctor diagnosed it an "reaction to an adult situation," I think of it as a form of post traumatic stress disorder.   I was so overwhelmed by the event of  losing my Father, by my work in college, and an unhappy marriage, that felt I could no longer  cope. I can't explain my mental state because I felt so bad, but the primary physical symptoms were that my heart would suddenly race, though I instinctively knew my heart was perfectly fine.  In other words, I was depressed because I was hiding my grief for the Father I never truly got to know and felt betrayed and abandoned like a child once more and totally helpless. 

At the clinic in the VA Hospital I met people that had been in Vietnam, and were confronted with memories of their being forced to kill women and children to survive. (It happens.) I somehow grew stronger listening to my fellow soldiers problems in outpatient group meetings, mostly because I grew to understand that their problems were so much worse than mine.  Even so,  I had a really hard time telling my Doctor my feelings of  powerlessness.  I finally dealt with that pain and came to terms with it.  I feel reconciled, and I don't have any problem telling everyone that now.  

That is what depression really feels like, an utter sense of helplessness, powerlessness.  When you are truly helpless you can't easily speak to others about pain.  It makes you appear weak and that makes you feel even more vulnerable.  What I found out is that talking about weakness makes you stronger.

And that is why I am saying this now nearly thirty years later as I recognize the same feelings of helplessness.  I suppose that in the back of the mind there is always this scale of strength and weakness.  It involves the idea that if you stack up all of the things you try to accomplish on one side and all of the barriers you run into on the other side, nothing seems worth it.  

Before I started writing this, I took one of those online depression quiz that confirmed what I already knew.  It sounds strange, but it actually made me feel better to know that what is making me feel this way is reasonable.  I am depressed over the problems that I face.  I understand intellectually that lots of bad things have been happening to a lot of people and not just me lately, but I have to tell you that there appears to be no way right now for me to deal with it.    The result is that I feel old and weak today and everything seems to be closing in.  I am trying my best to recover by backing off of trying to fix everything at once and just trying to fix the things that I am able.  I will just have to learn to forget the problems that I can't fix right now.

Memories can make people helpless.  My stepfather once told me a few years before he died of Parkinson's disease that "Sometimes the only thing you can do to survive is to try to intentionally put memories aside and forget."  This is a pretty amazing statement if you have any idea about the true nature of Parkinson's disease.  There was actually a positive side to the disease.  I never communicated that well on a one to one basis with my Stepfather until that terrible disease made a more tolerant person out of him.  

Knowledge never eliminates pain.   Forgetting is also important to survival and success.  I think I will stop now because that is the point I was seeking. 

 

 

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Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved